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Trucker's Journal

I've been a trucker since November, 2004. Before that I was an accountant for many years. I'm having fun and actually making more than I did before. Go figure....

Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, April 21, 2007

More on weight

It's funny how things work. I can go for weeks and never have a bad weight, either total or on axles, then get a couple in a row. Last week I had a load assigned to me which had been loaded by a new employee who thought the object was to stack things as high as possible and pack it all in the front of the trailer. BZZZT! Wrong!

This trailer gave me steer axle weight of 13,880 (legal limit 12,000) and 28,160 on the trailer tandems with them moved ALL the way to the front to redistribute weight to the back. The balance of the 76,720 total was on the drive axles. With no way to move anything (even the sliding fifth wheel) to get it legal, the only option was to unload and have an experienced loader do it correctly. After it was done, my weights were: steer-10,580, drives-30,680, and tandems-35,460. But, remember, I had them slid all the way front, so I could adjust them back. At about 400 pounds per adjustment hole, I needed to move about 9 as a starting estimate. With that trailer, that was about 3 feet, so I slid them and ran over the scale again. Voila! Now, steers-10,620, drives-33,940, and tandems-32,160. You'll notice that moving the tandems does affect the steer axle very slightly, but it's very noticable on the drives and tandems.

I did get a load on Friday where I was overweight totally and they had to take off some of the load. I didn't get axles weights but do have an air gauge on my dash showing what my drive air bags have, and they were probably overweight, but I knew I wasn't going far (couple hundred miles) and there were no scales between start and stop, so I just didn't worry about it. Yeah, I could have been stopped on the road for something and been weighed on portable scales, but that's a rare event, so no sleep lost.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Moving tandem axles

In response to a request, here's the lowdown on weight distribution on the trailer. Each type of axle/tire combination is allowed a certain weight limit and the overall limit for the truck/trailer combination is also regulated by law. For most trucks with single steer axles and twin drive axles together with a trailer with tandem axles, the limit overall is 80,000 pounds. The steers are allowed 12,000, and both the dual axle sets are allowed 34,000. You may very well be at or under your allowed gross weight but have one or more axles overweight. I'm sure you have driven by the weigh stations on the interstate and seen the parking lot behind the building occupied by a truck or three and wondered why they are there. From the scuttlebutt I've heard, the most common reason is a log violation and the second most common is weight violations. Most truckers are aware of their "tare" or empty weight with a truck/trailer combination (mine is about 32,500 pounds most of the time) and can add their freight weight to that to see if it's legal. However, many don't bother to get their axle weights to see if they are axle legal also.

Here's where the moving of the axles comes in. If you are legal overall but your rear axles are overweight, you need to redistribute it toward the front. How can that be done? Well, remember when you were young and played on a see-saw which could be moved in the middle? If you and your friend stayed there on either end but moved the middle, you would have to work harder on one end to push and vice versa on the opposite end. So it is with the axles. If you are over on the rear, you need to reduce the rear weight by moving the axles back, placing more of the total trailer weight on the front of it. You do that by setting the trailer brakes and pulling the pin which locks the axles in place. You then move the truck and trailer forward while the axles sit still. The holes are generally placed so that each one changes the weight by about 400#, so if you're 1,000 over on the rear, you would move forward about 3 holes. If you're over on the drive (dual truck) axles, you do the opposite by backing up.

After you move them and relock the pin, you need to reweigh to see if you are indeed legal now. At many truck stops, the scales give you axle weights with separate platforms, but on a single platform scale, you need to get a total weight, then progressively pull off the scale with one axle or set of axles at a time to get weights and then do the math to see if you have done what you need to do.

Many states allow up to 1,000 over on any axle or set but some don't, so you're best to get it right. If you can't move it enough, then you have to get reloaded with the freight moved around inside the trailer and start the weigh/move process all over again.

On older trailers, you sometimes can't unlock the pin and move them, so many truckers try to avoid scales. The problem with that is that if you are caught doing it, your fine will be higher!

Another thing to remember is that some states regulate the length of the wheelbase of the trailer--in Michigan where I'm based, the distance from the kingpin (on the trailer where it mates with the fifth wheel on the truck, usually 3 feet from the front of the trailer) to the center of the axles at the rear can be no more than 40' 6". There's a lot to "juggle" to get your weight and length right.

Friday, April 06, 2007

End the Presidential/Congressional impasse

End the Presidential/Congressional impasse

OK, fair warning: this one's totally political! Exit now if you don't want to read it....

Congressional elections put Democrats in power with the premise that the American people were tired of the Bush war in Iraq. He (Dubya) doesn't seem to get that message. Our system is republican (small "r") which means the people govern by electing Senators and Representatives, but that isn't good enough for Georgie-boy. I think a direct democratic (small "d") system would work to show him what we really think, in a way he can't refute.

I propose that the President end the veto threat by adopting an NPR plan for funding the war. Put Dick Cheney on Fox News and call back Don Rumsfeld from retirement as guest-host on Rush Limbaugh and have them ask for money. If we take out the pork and say the President wants $100 Billion, then 100 Million Americans need to pledge only $1,000 each. It can be taken out of their weekly paychecks, so a family of five would contribute only $100/week.

Also following the NPR model, I propose a premium of a techno-coffeecup with a constantly updating numeric display of the number of American soldiers dead in the war over the picture of a flag-draped coffin, and a speaker playing "Taps" on every new death report. The other side might display smiling Dubya in his flight suit on the carrier deck under the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Here's something you'll never hear on NPR: "This is Dick Cheney and I tell you that if you don't pledge, you're supporting the terrorists! All you people with stickers on your car saying 'I support the troops' need to call now and put your money where your mouth is."

What happens if the full $100 Billion isn't pledged? Well, perhaps Halliburton could provide some matching funds out of their ill-gotten gains from the war. If the total still isn't reached, then withdrawals begin so that it's proportional. If only half is procured, then the troops come home in six months, or we withdraw the Air Force and Navy and leave the Army and Marines to fend for themselves. You get the idea, I'm sure....

I did pledge to NPR last week, but I won't be pledging to this drive.

If you have a better idea, please let me know. I do welcome comments, compliments, and complaints.

I'm back :)

When it rains, it pours. I had a virus/trojan/worm in my computer which kept me off-line for a while last year, then the real storm started. My cable company and I got in a little dispute and I told them to take their service and put it where the sun don't shine.

So, I'm still without a home internet account, but a friend allows me to bring over the laptop. I hope to be back on with some more regularity (more Metamucil needed?) now.